life as understood

by jeff carr, master of the arts, -------------------------------------------------------------------------- presumably from a couch


the best of the decade

courtesy of Jeff |

Ten years ago today, at 14, I stood outside in the snow with my parents' bulky video camera, with nothing to film. I had received some video editing equipment and software for Christmas--the most expensive present I'd ever asked for--and I was desperate to create something poignant and beautiful. This would be the beginning of a burgeoning creative career, I was certain. Slinging the protective bag over my left shoulder, I cocked the camera up to my eye and traipsed the road between the two houses, looking for meaning. By the end of our family's 10-day holiday party, I had captured a few snow football games, Brooke falling through the frozen pond, and the grand countdown to Y2K. Blips of excitement in otherwise listless footage.

Upon returning home, I installed the software and spent numerous hours cutting and compiling everything into a story to be distributed among the family--if nothing else, an hour-long memory of a good time. In the end, though, our dated computer wasn't compatible with the technology to output to videocassette. The footage remained unused, and my expensive present rendered useless. I continued to make movies on a school computer and with my best friend, but his superior equipment and talent soon rendered me obsolete as well.

Over the past week or so, I've ingested decade reviews courtesy Newsweek, Time, CNN, and others. By all global accounts, the '00s have been remarkably crappy. September 11th, Hurricane Katrina, the Asian monsoon, myriad wars, growing distrust of leadership, disdain for the US, a reign of "reality" TV, overshadowing and drought of quality creative work and entertainment, and a major global recession.

I'm not sure how history will remember this decade (or what they'll call it), but I suspect that I'll remember it as the decade in which everything happened, and nothing changed. In the '00s, I started and finished high school, and started and finished college. I moved away, learned about death, love, had my first kiss, won state, gained a sister, partied until morning, served a two-year mission in Siberia, and got engaged, and then married.

This morning, I awoke late in Sun Valley, and leaving my pregnant wife in bed, stepped out into morning on the snowy road between the houses. Slinging the bag over my left shoulder, I opened the screen on our newest, most expensive Christmas present--a JVC digital video camera--and pointed it out into the snow. Still nothing. It was a flailing, futile attempt to close the decade with greater structure than it began, and it failed.

On that very day ten years ago, I began to write in a journal, inaugurating a process that saw the abandonment of moviemaking as my principal creative activity. Now I consider myself a writer, and despite a few publications and a degree, I still don't know what I want to write about. In fact, I still don't know I want to do in general, other than that I want to create something poignant and beautiful. The specifics, through the lenses of both my video camera and my life itself, continue to be withheld from my sight.

The great essayist William Safire, who passed away this year, extolled the importance of people everywhere recording what they see, citing a widespread lack of first-person history in our cultural awareness. I didn't see the hurricane or even the recession, but I did see the road between the two houses. So I guess I'm doing that, recording what I see, but to what end? I certainly never found an answer in this decade. The '10s, though, will be the decade in which the majority, if not all, of my children will be born. I imagine then I'll have something to write about, and something to film.

Even on a macro level, maybe the snow football games and babies are still all that matter. Maybe I'll never get to unfurl a grand global creative insight on the world, but maybe that's ok. After all, despite all that's happened on the outside, and despite my own futility to synthesize it into anything poignant or beautiful, this was a pretty great decade for me. Maybe that's something.



courtesy of Jeff |

This is longest blog drought in some time now, but that's not without good reason. By the way, I'm resolved to begin each post with a reference to the fact that it's been a while as a punishment to myself for letting it be a while, lest you poo-poo my lack of variation.

Here's the thing. Sarah, my wife, is knocked up. I know, I know, there are probably better ways to say that, but chances are, most caring readers know by now anyway. Sarah posted it on her blog quite some time ago. If this comes as a shock to you, it's because I'm horrible at spreading big news. There are a number of people quite close to me who surely remain in the dark, including pretty much everyone from high school. Well, now you know.

This miraculous development in our lives came as a shock to us as well, actually. I know that's the question everyone wants to ask, especially after they hear me too-adamantly proclaim that "no, we're waiting a while." Well, we were, but Carr Jr. evidently didn't get the memo. But I tell you what--we're excited. It's kind of like when you forget to invite someone to your birthday party, but then they show up anyway and everyone has a good time. It's a little awkward at first, but that's mostly my fault for not inviting him (or her).

The due date is June 8th, so after Sarah graduates, but before we take off for grad school. This means we're just at the end of the first trimester. She's been sick pretty much 24/7 for the last six weeks, and that is hopefully beginning to subside. It's all been fairly surreal so far, because the two of us have just been spending each waking moment trying to keep her from honking. She's also taking 18 credits and working more than 20 hours per week. She's quite the trooper. Needless to say, we probably haven't had ample time to really take it all in. But what we have processed so far is that this is going to be quite the special experience for the next few decades or so. Possibly eternity.